CARSON, Calif. -- No Edson Buddle, No Landon Donovan. No problem for the Los Angeles Galaxy.
On a day when teammate Edson Buddle shined for the United States Men’s National Team against Australia, his Galaxy teammates proved that they are doing just fine without him, earning a 4-1 victory against the Dynamo.
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Throughout the Galaxy’s 12-game undefeated streak, a complete cast of characters have come up big to catapult the club to the top of the league standings. During the Galaxy’s impressive 4-1 win over Houston on Saturday, the replacements for Donovan and Buddle stepped up in a big way with Jovan Kirovski, Tristan Bowen and Alex Cazumba scoring goals.
The Galaxy’s depth was the difference on Saturday as the club was able to overwhelm a Houston club that has played three matches in the last eight days. Houston quickly wore down in the second half with the Galaxy able to capitalize on every mistake. The victory takes the Galaxy to a record of 10-0-2 on the season which is the best in MLS.
Since Head Coach Bruce Arena has taken over for the Galaxy, the former United States head coach has sought to create a club that can stand the test of the grueling MLS season. For Bowen, that approach begins on the training ground every day.
“It's definitely the competition in practice, Bruce has done a great job in getting a group of incredibly competitive guys together,” said Bowen. “We know that we have to fight for our spots and when you get your number called, everyone wants to go out there and compete and show why you belong on the field.”
As the club heads into the World Cup break, an astounding total of 22 of the 24 players on the Galaxy roster have started for the club. With Alex Cazumba’s goal in the 56th minute, the Brazilian is now the 11th Galaxy player to score this season. For a team that was criticized early on for being overly reliant on the play of Edson Buddle, it is a testament to Bruce Arena. For all the success, Arena is unable to coronate this Galaxy team as the deepest that he has ever had.
“I had a team at D.C. United that had seven international players and some of them didn’t start,” said Arena. “What helps here is that we have a veteran roster that do a fabulous job understanding their role and really know how to push the young players along. It is certainly a much improved roster from the one that I inherited.”
One such veteran who was instrumental in stepping up for Los Angeles on Saturday was Kirovski. Scoring a pair of goals, the forward had great success in linking up with his fellow striker Bowen. The pair had two previous starts together before the departures of Buddle and Donovan, but looked like a veteran striking tandem on Saturday.
“It’s great to have Tristan because he compliments me so well and he is strong and every time I get the ball I’m looking for him,” said Kirovski. “We really have a great group of players here and although Landon and Edson are gone, we’ve done well.”